Declaration of Independence

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. - That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Gun Control and Safety

                    Many people know that guns do not kill people; people will evil intents kill people.  Many other people have said that the best way to stop an active shooter is with another gun; the proof of this statement comes from the actions of policemen when they face a shooter.  When every other method available at the time fails, the police use their guns!

                    President Ronald Reagan had personal experience with an active shooter during an attempt to assassinate him.  During the attack, a bullet lodged about an inch from Reagan's heart and required surgery to save his life.  Reagan said, "You won't get gun control by disarming law-abiding citizens.  There's only one way to get real gun control:  Disarm the thugs and the criminals, lock them up and if you don't actually throw away the key, at least lose it for a long time…  It's a nasty truth, but those who seek to afflict harm are not fazed by gun controllers.  I happen to know this from personal experience."

                    Since the shooting at the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, on Friday, December 14, 2012, there have been many angry and frightened people calling for "action."  I believe that action should be taken but not while emotions are so out of control.  I know that it is possible and very likely that we would make big mistakes if we made decisions right now.  I suggest that we take the time to calm down and to get the information straight.  The lame stream media reported so many untruths - or at least mixed up the information - that it is extremely difficult to know exactly what happened.  The only things we really know is that twenty children and eight adults are dead, victims of a mentally ill man and the guns were purchased legally.

We all need to understand that people who desire to kill other people will find a way to do it.   If a person wants to commit
murder, gun-control laws will not stop them!  Laws do not stop criminals; in spite of having laws, banks are still robbed and embezzlement still take place.  We have laws in order to have a standard and to establish a penalty or punishment for breaking the law.

                    Gun-control laws do not stop violence with a gun.  Connecticut has the fifth-strongest gun control laws in the nation, and the laws did not stop killing.  The fact is that a killer would use another weapon to kill if every single gun were locked up!

                    One of the first things that we must do is to establish the correct meaning for the words we use.  Many people are calling for a ban on "assault" weapons.  We had a law banning "assault rifles," but it was allowed to expire because it did not work.  Nevertheless, people want to ban "assault" weapons, apparently not realizing that every single gun is an "assault weapon." 

The second bit of misinformation is the type of gun used by the Connecticut shooter:  Did he use pistols or a Bushman rifle?  Shots fired by rifles tend to be more accurate than those fired by pistols, but pistols usually work better in close quarters.

The Bushmaster is a semi-automatic adaptation of the AR-16 used by our military.  A semi-automatic weapon is one that feeds itself and ejects its shells automatically with each pull of the trigger.  Some semi-automatic weapons can be switched to full automatic.  An automatic weapon feeds and ejects the bullets like a semi-automatic, but it keeps firing as long as the trigger is pulled.  Most hunting rifles in past days are a type called repeating rifles.  This means that the hunter has to work the bolt manually to load bullets and to eject spent shells.  Some hunting rifles are now semi-automatics.

                    Brandon Webb, a former U.S. Navy SEAL with more than thirteen years of active duty service, wrote an e-book entitled Navy SEAL Tips - How to Survive an Active Shooter.  He also wrote an article  giving specific common-sense ideas about how to protect ourselves and our children from violent people.  Webb made the following suggestions:  1) It takes a village:  parents and teachers can start local programs to put more adults around schools.  He called such a program "School Watch."  He also suggested that "educating teachers on how to deal with active shooters is also key.  Creating and implementing a standardized system of awareness."

                    2) Leverage technology:  We use various types of technology to protect airplane passengers; why not use the same technology to protect children.  Since schools usually funnel visitors through one entry, technology such as metal detectors, conventional and high-energy x-ray, active millimeter wave imaging, and energetic trace explosive detection could "disrupt and warn" and would be further from the classrooms.

                    3) Be more aware and pay attention to our surrounding.  Do not ignore the "warning signs, clues, and outright treats" and the "cries for help."  Then use the many means of communication to get the information out about potential murderers.

                    Webb quoted Winston Churchill:  "I never worry about action, but only about inaction."  "It's time for us Americans to take action."

                    In an article entitled "Active shooters inschools:  The enemy is denial,"  Doug Wyllie reported remarks made in 2010 at "an extraordinary daylong seminar, presented by Lt. Col. Dave Grossman, a Pulitzer Prize nominated author, West Point psychology professor, and without a doubt the world's foremost expert on human aggression and violence."  About 250 police officers from around the region attended the California Peace Officers Association's event.

                    According to Wyllie, Grossman discussed the reasons why no school children have died in fires in the past fifty years and suggested that communities prepare to fight violence in the same ways they prepare for fires.  Just as schools are built to prevent and/or fight fires - walls made of cement, ceilings of unburnable materials, fire extinguishers, nearby fire engines and fire hydrants, and battery-operated exit signs - they should also be built in ways that will prevent and/or fight violence.
                    "`Are these fire guys crazy?  Are these fire guys paranoid?  No!  [The fire guys have] redundant, overlapping layers of protection, [and] not a single kid has been killed by school fire in the last 50 years!
                    "`But you try to prepare for violence - the thing much more likely to kill our kids in schools, the thing hundreds of times more likely to kill  our kids in schools - and people think you're paranoid.  They think you're crazy.  … They're in denial.'"

                    "The challenge for law enforcement agencies and officers, then, is to overcome not only the attacks taking place in schools, but to first over come the denial in the minds of mayors, city councils, school administrators, and parents.  Grossman said that agencies and officers, although facing an uphill slog against the denial of the general public, must diligently work toward increasing understanding among the sheep that the wolves are coming for their children.  Police officers must train and drill with teachers, not only so responding officers are intimately familiar with the facilities, but so that teachers know what they can do in the event of an attack."

                    Grossman described how the librarian at Columbine High School thought the students in her school was safe in the library.  He said it was like putting them in a gold fish bowl and suggested that the students would have been much safer in the librarian's closest.  [The teachers at Sandy Hook Elementary School apparently learned from the Columbine incident and hid their students in cabinets, closets and bathrooms.]

                    Wyllie wrote that "arming campus cops is elementary," and Grossman agreed with him.  "`Never call an unarmed man "security."  Call him "run-like-hell-when-the-man-with-the-gun-shows-up" but never call an unarmed man security.'"
                    "`Our problem is not money,' said Grossman.  `It is denial.'"  Grossman and most peace officers know that "the most important things we can do to protect our kids would cost us nothing or next-to-nothing."

                    Wyllie summarized Dave Grossman's "Five D's" as follows.  "1) Denial - Denial is the enemy and it has no survival value.  
2) Deter - Put police officers in schools, because with just one officer assigned to a school, the probability of a mass murder in that school drops to almost zero. 

3) Detect - We're talking about plain old fashioned police work here.  The ultimate achievement for law enforcement is the crime that didn't happen, so giving teachers and administrators regular access to cops is paramount. 

4) Delay - Various simple mechanisms can be used by teachers and cops to put time and distance between the killers and the kids.  a) Ensure that the school/classroom have just a single point of entry.  Simply locking the back door helps create a hard target.  b) Conduct your active shooter drills within (and in partnership with) the schools in your city so teachers know how to respond, and know what it looks like when you do your response. 

5) Destroy - Police officers and agencies should consider the following:  a) Carry off duty.  No one would tell a firefighter who has a fire extinguisher in his trunk that he's crazy or paranoid.  b) Equip every cop in America with a patrol rifle.  One chief of police, upon getting rifles for all his officers once said, `If an active killer strikes in my town, the response time will be measured in feet per second.'  c) Put smoke grenades in the trunk of every cop car in America.  Any infantryman who needs to attack across open terrain or perform a rescue under fire deploys a smoke grenade.  A fire extinguisher will do a decent job in some cases, but a smoke grenade is designed to perform the function.  d) Have a `go-to-war bag' filled with lots of loaded magazines and supplies for tactical combat casualty care.  e) Use helicopters.  Somewhere in your county you probably have one or more of the following:  medevac, media, private, national guard, coast guard rotors.  f) Employ the crew-served, continuous-feed, weapon you already have available to you (a firehouse) by integrating the fire service into your active shooter training.   It is virtually impossible for a killer to put well-placed shots on target while also being blasted with water at 300 pounds per square inch.  g) Armed citizens can help.  Think United 93.  Whatever your personal take on gun control, it is all but certain that a killer set on killing is more likely to attack a target where the citizens are unarmed, rather than one where they are likely to encounter an armed citizen response."

                    Other people are suggesting that principals have access to weapons in order to protect their schools; still others are suggesting that active-duty or retired police officers be assigned to each school.  Former Governor and presidential candidate Mike Huckabee suggested that we have "created an atmosphere in this country where the only time you want to invoke God's name is after the tragedy" and made it clear that "he believes people should consider these themes more regularly." 

I agree with Huckabee that "Americans need to quit apologizing for their faith and `quit being ashamed that we believe in God.'"   I also believe that we must 1) Get help for our mentally ill citizens; 2) Strengthen families by encouraging marriage and better parenting skills.  The healthiest families have both mothers and fathers because children need the influences of both men and women in their lives.  Healing families will not stop mental illness, but it can help troubled youths with many of their problems before they reach the point of violence. 

I pray for peace and comfort to the people in Newtown, Connecticut, and their families and friends.  I also pray for our nation.  May God bless us and may God bless America!               

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